Chef Alyssa Gives Us Her Tips For Cooking With Fall Flavors

chef alyssa
Alyssa Wilen
Chef Alyssa is back to share with us her invaluable cooking tips once again. This time, fall flavors are on the agenda.

Alyssa: I love the transition of the seasons! Right now, I can still get some summer cucumbers, zucchini and tomatoes, but as those fade out, I am excited by the many fall ingredients beginning to fill the farmer’s market. As you stock up your pantry and prepare for the leaves changing, here are a few tips for cooking this season’s haul, along with ways to spruce up these common ingredients and get the most out of your dishes.

Tips for working with fall vegetables and spices:

1. Kale, Collard Greens, Cabbage, Chard!
All nutrient-dense, leafy greens are great for you, but be careful not to eat too many of them raw. If using them in place of a wrap or burrito, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds and then shock in ice water. Pat dry and they are ready to do to serve up with your favorite filling. Or if using in a salad, add a little olive oil, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and pinch of salt to help tenderize. Refrigerate with the marinade for 30 minutes before using.

2. Ribbon Peeler
One of my favorite tools in the kitchen. It will help you remove the peel from your gourds before cooking and can make easy ribbons of vegetables like carrots or cucumber for your salads. You can put your kids on that task to help in the kitchen too!

3. Balance your spices.
Nothing feels more like fall than the aroma of pumpkin spice, but if you want to add a pinch of cinnamon or allspice to your savory food, make sure to balance out that flavor with a little cayenne pepper or other savory spices like cumin and coriander. This is a great spice combination for candied pecans or roasted vegetables.

4. Replace dry ginger with fresh.
For a more sweet and aromatic flavor for your gingerbread, grate ginger root and add it to your baked goods. I find you can use about 2 Tbsp. of freshly grated paste for ½ tsp. dry ginger. You can store the ginger in your freezer and use it as your would fresh; peel away the skin and you are ready to go.

5. Incorporate apples into your savory dishes.
Diced apples mixed with carrots or squash are great to roast together in the oven. Add a little salt and that’s just about it for a fantastic easy side dish.

6. Infuse with fresh herbs.
For an easy flavor enhancer, use a sprig of fresh herbs such as rosemary or sage into olive oil. Warm the oil in the pan along with the sprig, stem and all, and once the aroma comes out, remove the stem and use the olive oil for cooking. If you pan roast veggies, steak or piece of chicken, add a Tablespoon of butter and the herb sprig. While the butter sizzles, the herbs will fry and permeate the butter and the dish. Remove from the pan and spread the melted butter and herbs all over the finished ingredients.

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